Saint Genesius of Rome (died 303), patron saint of actors. Genesius set out to mock and persecute Christians, and in the process, was brought to the light of Christ through baptism. So filled with joy, he proclaimed the Good News, and promptly received the crown of martyrdom. His life, conversion, and death remind us that our intentions are secondary to the plan that the Lord has in store for us.
To learn more about the Christian beliefs, Genesius befriended a group of covert Christians, entering the Catechumenate and “preparing for baptism” under the guidance of his instructor. There, he developed a keen interest in the faith, engaging in many long conversations with the Christians he encountered… but his heart was not moved. As soon as he had gathered enough information to organize his new play, he left the group.
“Oh my friends, I feel a great weight and would like to be enlightened.” This line would lead to many cruel and ribald remarks on the part of the other actors. One responded by saying, “If you want to be lighter, I can use my pruning knife!” At this point, Genesius was graced by visions of angels hovering around him, unseen to others, and he was touched by the Holy Spirit. Overcome with the teachings he had learned during his research, he could no longer resist the call of the Lord. No longer acting, but speaking from his heart, he said, “You fools, I am resolved to die a Christian that God may receive me as one who seeks His salvation by turning away from idolatry & superstition.” When the other actors asked him why, he said, “All my life I have been a fugitive, and only today have I found God.”
Two actors then entered, one playing a priest and the other an exorcist. The actor-priest asked, “My child, why did you send for me?” Again, he repeated his heart’s true desire for baptism. He said, “I wish to receive the grace of Christ. I long to be reborn and set free from all the sin that lies around me.” The actor priest then baptized Genesius, and when the water flowed upon him, he was graced with new life in Christ.
The Emperor Diocletian could not stop laughing, and began to send small gifts of gold, food and wine up to the players. Genesius had earned the attention and admiration of the powerful leader, but he was no longer interested. His heart now belonged to Christ, and his ambitions of the world were distant memories.
“Oh Emperor and his soldiers. Listen also people of Rome, especially if you have a mind of your own and know how to use it. Before today, whenever I heard the name Christian, it would make me sick and angry. I would make fun of them and encourage others to abuse them. Over and over I insulted them and encouraged others to be violent towards them. I so hated Christians, that I deserted my own family as a child when I realized that there were Christians among them. So much did I hate them, that I went secretly among them to learn their secrets.
O great Diocletian, I started this play as a way to deride the Christian mysteries in which I did not believe. Yet lying on that make believe sick bed and having an actor-priest, pour water over me, I found that the words I was speaking were true. I wrote this play, these are my words. But now they are the words of my heart. I believe and when I said these words today, I saw the very angels of God surround me. The angels told me that my sins were really forgiven and that water that washed over me, washed away all the evil I have done.
I came here today to please an earthly Emperor but what I have done is to please a heavenly King. I came here to give you laughter, but what I have done is to give joy to God and his angels. From this moment on, believe me, I will never mock these great mysteries again. I now know that the Lord Jesus Christ is the true God, the Light, the Truth and the Mercy of all who have received his gift of baptism. O great Emperor, believe in these mysteries! I will teach you, and you will know the Lord Jesus Christ is the true God.”
"There is no other Lord beside Him whom I have seen. Him I worship. To Him I will cling should I suffer 1000 deaths. No torments will remove Jesus Christ from my mouth & my heart. Bitterly I regret the ridicule I performed while detesting His holy name.” Genesius earned the crown of martyrdom that same day by beheading.
Saint Genesius was buried in the cemetery of Saint Hippolytus on the Via Tiburtina in Rome. His relics are said to be divided between San Giovanni della Pigna, San Susanna di Termini, and the chapel of Saint Lawrence. He was venerated at Rome in the fourth century and a church was built in there in his honor.
Dear Genesius, according to a very ancient story, when you were still a pagan, you once ridiculed Christ while acting on the stage. But, like Saul on the road to Damascus, you were floored by Christ's powerful grace. You rose bearing witness to Jesus and died a great martyr's death. Intercede for your fellow actors before God that they may faithfully and honestly perform their roles and so help others to understand their role in life and thus enabling them to attain their end in heaven. Amen.
Holy Saint Genesius,
martyr for Christ,
by the grace of the Holy Spirit
through your acting
you came to discover
the truth of the Christian faith.
In your first profession of that faith
you were baptized through the shedding
of your blood,
offering your life for the praise and glory
of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Pray for those who dedicate their lives
to the theatrical and cinematic arts.
Like you may they find the presence
of the Lord in their work
and generously open their hearts
to his teaching,
living it in the midst of the challenges
and demands of their calling.
Eternal Father, in your love you call all men and women to come to know you and to share in your divine life. Through the intercession of your martyr, Genesius, who responded so generously to the grace of conversion, grant that the same grace may be given to those who as yet do not know you, and may be renewed in those who do. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."